January 14, 2022
A Note from our Executive Director
Happy New Year! We hope that 2022 continues to provide wonderful blessings and opportunities for you, our students, families, and community! Let me begin by thanking you for taking the time to read this e-newsletter. It is our intention to share more about the work that we are doing, the services we are providing, and provide you with a closer look at some of our students, alumni, volunteers, staff, and supporters! The GRAD Motto is that "Graduation Really Achieves Dreams" and we recognize that it is our entire team that makes the work happen!

For a little over 19 years, Project GRAD Akron has been supporting students in the Akron Public Schools as well as our students who are attaining post-secondary success at various colleges and universities throughout the country! It is hard to believe that I have been serving as the Executive Director for over 15 years! I will say that each year brings unique challenges and opportunities; however, I will admit that these past two years of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues, have been extremely taxing on so many people and at so many different levels. As I reflect over the last year, the one word that I keep thinking about is "thankful." We have so many blessings to be thankful for and I hope you know how much we appreciate everyone who helps us fulfill our mission of serving young people and providing them with great opportunities!

In each edition of our newsletter, you will see different examples of why we are "thankful" at Project GRAD Akron and how you are assisting us as we make positive and impactful differences in the lives of the people we serve!


I am thankful that I have been placed in a position to work with so many committed and dedicated staff, board, team members, and volunteers! I can genuinely say that the PGA staff members "love" their jobs. They are dedicated professionals, who are passionate about their work and are always willing to look for opportunities to support our students and families. If they see a need, they do "whatever it takes" to address it, including from their personal resources. The students know that they care and set high expectations for them to achieve success! For this, I am thankful to work with such a small, but mighty, group of individuals!

In December, PGA staff members participated in person or virtually for a holiday get-together. Our theme was "Joy and Peace." To make certain that we protected each other, we were socially-distanced, wore masks, and followed COVID-19 precautions. We went the extra mile of having our delicious meals delivered in individual boxes as we sat at separate tables. We had a wonderful time. During the gathering, we were asked to write and share with the group at least one example of what brought you "Joy" at Project GRAD Akron. It was uplifting to hear all of the stories about the joy staff members receive while doing the work of supporting students and the particular joy when the students understood or "got" it! The smiles on our staff members' faces said it all!

I ask each of you to take the time to think about things that bring you "Joy" and how you can use it to support young people. As we celebrate National Mentoring Month, consider bringing additional joy in your life and in the life of a student by becoming a GRAD Mentor or a volunteer with Project GRAD Akron! If you are looking for other ways to support, please visit the GRAD Website or consider making a tax-deductible donation (Donate Here) to support our programs and/or scholarship fund.

Thank you for your support. Have a blessed, safe, and Happy New Year!

Jacqueline "Jackie" A. Silas-Butler, Esq.
Holiday Drop-Off
In December, Project GRAD Akron staff members delivered holiday gift bags filled with fun holiday activities, food, and other surprises to our active Bridge to Kindergarten families.

In addition, the City of Akron, Ohio - Mayor's Office contributed gloves, scarves, and hats! A few photos from the event are below.
Board Spotlight: Pamela R. Valentine
Pam Valentine strongly believes in the mission of Project GRAD Akron. She has been involved with Project GRAD Akron for more than 15 years. She has served as president, vice-president, GRAD mentor, chaired the annual Achieving Dreams Celebration Gala, and is currently a member of the Executive, Finance, and Nominating Committees. 

Pam initially became involved with Project GRAD Akron to help kids at Buchtel. Pam isn’t from Akron originally, but has cousins who graduated from Butchtel. Helping kids at Buchtel is Pam’s way of giving back. She loves that Project GRAD continues to help students after they graduate from high school.

Pam believes in Project GRAD Akron because she has seen first-hand what the program has done for youth. Especially in her capacity as a GRAD mentor.
“My mentee was a first-generation student and I was able to help her navigate through the process of going to college. This enlightened me because my mother was a college graduate and I was able to lean on her. This girl did not have anybody to lean on. This is how Project GRAD Akron can fill the gaps to those who need to navigate those waters. Getting into college isn’t the hard part, it’s staying in that’s hard.”

Some of Pam’s favorite memories from serving on the board have been going to events like the Breakfast and Educational Fun with Santa event and the Bridge to Kindergarten graduation ceremony. 

“I love the look on their faces when they know they’ve achieved something.”

It is Pam’s sincere hope that more young professionals, especially African Americans, get involved with Project GRAD Akron. She believes it’s important to show our young people what they are capable of achieving!
A Special Thank You...
Thank you to Wayside Furniture for selecting Project GRAD Akron as one of the recipients of a matching donation from their annual Wayside After-Thanksgiving Giving Event. Individuals donations, up to $100 each, were matched by Wayside. Thank you to everyone who dropped off donations at the store to support Project GRAD Akron!
Thank you to the GAR Foundation for its recent grant to support Project GRAD Akron's College and Career Central programs and classes for students at Buchtel and East CLCs of the Akron Public Schools. This generous gift supports PGA students from 6th to 12th grades. To learn more, please visit the GAR Foundation's website.
Apply to be a GRAD Mentor!
January is National Mentoring Month!

If you are looking for an amazing volunteer opportunity in 2022, look no further than the GRAD Mentors program at Project GRAD Akron. We are looking for dedicated community members who will develop and maintain a mentor relationship with a high school student at either Buchtel or East High Schools (Community Learning Centers) in the Akron Public Schools.

Interested in learning more? Call our office at 330-761-3113 or visit our website here: https://projectgradakron.org/grad-mentor/
Holiday Closure
Project GRAD Akron offices will be closed on Monday, January 17th in observance of
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Please Save the Dates
Monday, April 4, 2022
8th Annual March GRADness
Saturday, October 15, 2022
16th Annual Achieving Dreams Celebration Gala

Click on the links to "Connect" with Project GRAD Akron